A Better Day- Album Release soon!
A Better Day-
A debut album of 9 songs based on the hope found through heart break. Each song a different genre, yet tied together by the common thread of heart, soul, and resilience. A journey through which you find yourself relating at some point in your life to different parts of the story. Here's part of my story that I can't wait to share with you!
Where to begin. Oh yes, with the breakup. That sucked. But good came out of it anyway!
Parts of the album process were more painful than the break up, but that's dealing with people I guess. Overall, the experience was unique and I have to say I learned a lot about myself throughout the past couple years. I also learned what to do better as well as what to avoid next time around. Yes, there will be a next time. If you asked me that in 2015 I'd say, no-way-José.
I have lots of business advice to share with you all. Advice about life and love, friends and faith. More about that in my BLOG. Yup- it's about time!!
Early 2014 I wrote a bunch of songs. They stemmed from the depths of my soul. I literally would be driving and this painful thought would come to mind, form into a melody, and I'd record it right there on my iPhone. It was brutal. I've never cried so much in my life. I was devastated, but had this weird sense of hope. Looking back, that was a false hope based on the desire for things to work out. Hope was real, and still is, but manifested differently than my tunnel vision could see at the time.
My songwriting process usually begins with a lyric and melody. Then I take that and find chords on the piano. Little riffs, tempo, varying chord changes, and arrangements comes next. It's a process and sometimes I write a song in an hour or so, other times it takes months of revisiting. Not every song on this album was an extension of the break up. "Why?" was written about another situation. "Can't Hold On" was written via Skype with the soulful Zahra Lysora and wasn't about anyone in particular. "From the Valley" was created from a poem by the very talented Mihaela S. Hegstrom. "Hate To See Your Heart Break" is a cover by Hayley Williams and Taylor York of Paramore, later recorded by Hayley and Joy Williams (formerly of The Civil Wars). Side note- The Civil Wars breaking up was the worst ever :(
"A Better Day" and "Catch Me Falling" are collaborations with Soterios Metropoulos, my dad, who is also a singer-songwriter and guitarist. Those were fun to write together. We each added our own parts for a unique blend of perspective.
Around May 2014, I decided to collaborate with a friend from church, Danya Thompson, who was known in our circles to produce albums for independent artists. The hope was to have an album out by Thanksgiving 2014 for people to buy as Christmas gifts. He heard my songs on piano/vocals, as well as played drums on a couple of them at the Ballydoyle Songwriter Showcase I used to host. He chose the musicians, which were and still are a group of very talented young men. Danya proceeded to change some arrangements of my songs, solidify tempos, suggest a genre for each song, and rehearse the band. The problem is that all of this happened almost a year after our initial meeting.
In May 2015, the band rehearsed and recorded at Pressure Point Recording Studios in Chicago, IL. The band: Rick Cruz on guitars, Charlie Coffeen on keys, T.Lee on bass, and Danya Thompson on drums. Brian "Cabby" Cabanatuan did an amazing job engineering the session. "Why?", "One Thing", "Forgive You", "Not Our Time", "Catch Me Falling", "A Better Day", and "Can't Hold On" were tracked in one day. The band was tight. You are all incredibly talented and amazing musicians. Thank you for putting forth your best on these songs. I wish we had more time together. The SSL and experienced engineering produced great sounding tracks for the musical bed. Afterwards, Danya spent time with Rick adding more guitar layers to the tracks.
Some of the top creative elements Danya brought to the songs are the extension of "Not Our Time", the repetition of the B section in "Forgive You", changing "Why?" from a Latin tune to disco, changing "Catch Me Falling" from Indie rock to Latin, and finding the sexy groove for "One Thing". He gave each song an identity, although at the time, it didn't feel like they were my identity.
A couple weeks later, I tried laying down vocals at Treehouse Records, also in Chicago. Although I spent some time working with the fabulous Typhanie Monique (now of Dot Time Records), I did not have enough time with the new tracks and was not pleased with the outcome of my vocals. In the midst of the busiest time of my work year was not the right time to record vocals. I was drained and didn't have the time to properly prepare. I was also in the midst of preparing for a huge missions trip to Uganda at the end of May. It was just too much. More on that in my a future blog. Typhanie is an ah-ma-zing vocalist and vocal coach. I used to go watch her live with a dear friend, Teresa Shine, all the time in college. She's the best and I can't believe it took me years to think of taking vocal sessions with her! Glad I did, as our time together, although short, was special. Typhanie recorded vocals on "Forgive You", a funky live jam tune her voice and energy fits perfectly. I eventually sang harmonies on this track.
Danya also recorded the 9-foot Yamaha grand piano and acoustic guitar at Christian Church of Clarendon Hills, the church we met at and the stage I worshipped on countless times. We had a couple very late night sessions with my dad and I, but finally laid the tracks down for "From the Valley" and "Hate to See Your Heart Break".
Let's fast-forward to the end of January 2017, over 1.5 years later. At this point I had become emotionally detached from the album and didn't even want to listen to it. Everyone kept asking when I was going to finish it, and I didn't even want to talk about it. I finally found the right producer to work with to bring the album to the next level as well as to completion. Nick Scalise of Scalise Studios saved my project and my psyche. Literally. More about that in my blog to come. Formerly half of the duo Bestfriends, I couldn't stop listening to his tunes. Their freshman album is addicting. I knew I wanted to work with Nick after tracking my dad's vocals on a couple of our tunes in his Los Angeles studio. Nick is so easy to work with, funny, honest, and has a great ear!! His vision for my music is exactly what I had been looking for the whole time. He took the stems, edited everything, mixed everything, added his production take to the tracks, recorded my vocals, edited and mixed all the vocals, produced the acoustic tracks "From the Valley" and "Hate to See Your Heart Break" from two raw tracks of piano and guitar, added some percussion, and mastered the tracks. The tracks went from sounding like a live jam band where everyone played all the time to recordings with intentionally highlighted instruments in strategic places. The tracks kept my attention from beginning to end, continually making me want to hear what come next. I was so happy.
Nick helped give me vision for how to sing each song, how to fit the style of each genre the best I could, helped create harmonies, and even wrote part of a verse on "Not Our Time". We spent countless hours together laughing, retaking, being exhausted, retaking, creating, retaking, and retaking some more :) He helped me get more comfortable with my voice and I can honestly say I sing better now after that experience and can even hear a difference from the first track recorded to the last one. Thank you Nick. Thank you for bringing my songs to life, for listening to me, for wanting to collaborate, for making my songs more interesting to listen to musically and vocally, for allowing me to be proud of this album again. You are an excellent producer Nick Scalise. I owe you and hope to collaborate more soon my friend!
I currently reside in Los Angeles. I have since February 1, 2017. It's been an interesting journey with moving from Willowbrook, IL to Newport Beach, CA June 30, 2016. I never expected to be living in LA right now, or ever, but here I am! I'm glad technology exists so I can still share my life and music with my dearest friends back home. It is cool to meet new people out here though, to start fresh with an album that I am proud to put my name on. I can't wait to share more about my experience with you. I am not afraid to speak candidly and hope my songs reflect that as well. Thank you in advance for your support and donation downloads. This album ended up costing me way more than I originally planned. I paid for the entire project with money I saved.
A huge shout out to my parents, Soterios and Miraflor Metropoulos, for their everlasting love and support. You guys will always be my #1 fans! Another huge shout out to my dear friend and very talented singer-songwriter, Renée Catrine, who has been a solid encourager for me through this whole album process. Please share my music with your friends, not just because the songs sound good, but because you think it may help them through something! Don't be shy! Please tell me how these songs affected you or someone you know. Feedback is great and I'd love to hear from you!
Much Love & Peace,
All songs (P)(C)2017 Elissa Sophia Metropoulos